Sometimes manuscript traditions can be fun (I know, I know). Especially when they involve one of the greatest curmudgeons of the Early Church – Jerome. Known for his skill with both Greek and Latin, Jerome plays a large part in many textual discussions of the Patristics era.
Today I discovered a fun note involving Jerome in the text tradition of Didymus the Blind’s De Spiritu Sancto. Although Didymus wrote in Greek, our oldest manuscript is in Latin. Why?
In the late 4th c., Ambrose of Milan wrote his own De Spiritu Sancto at the request of Gratian. Jerome came across a copy of this and felt that Ambrose had plagiarized Didymus’ work…poorly. Jerome states in his introduction:
“Not long ago I read a certain man’s little books on the Holy Spirit and I saw that what the Comic said was true: good Latin does not come from good Greek. The work was utterly devoid of logical structure, completely lacking the force and rigor that would draw the reader even unwillingly to agreement. Rather, everything was languid, weak, elegant, and refined, and adorned here and there with artificial colors.
But my dear Didymus…gazed even higher and restored for us the ancient custom of calling a Prophet a ‘seer.’ Whoever reads this will certainly recognize how the Latins have robbed him and will scorn the trickling stream once he begins to drink from the gushing spring.” Continue reading »